Sporting KC stifles San Jose Earthquakes in 0-0 draw to keep first place in Western Conference
Goalkeeper Tim Melia collects his MLS-leading ninth shutout of 2017; Sporting KC limits Quakes to five shots, their fewest all-time in a home game; Sporting KC returns to California next Saturday to face LA Galaxy
2017 MLS Regular Season Game 17 of 34 Avaya Stadium | San Jose, California Attendance: 18,000 Weather: 85 degrees and sunny
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Graham Zusi, Ike Opara, Matt Besler (C), Seth Sinovic; Roger Espinoza, Ilie, Benny Feilhaber; Gerso, Dom Dwyer (Diego Rubio 76), Latif Blessing (Jimmy Medranda 69) Subs Not Used: Andrew Dykstra, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Kevin Ellis, Soni Mustivar, Daniel Salloi
San Jose Earthquakes: David Bingham; Nick Lima, Victor Bernardez, Andres Imperiale, Kofi Sarkodie; Cordell Cato (Shea Salinas 70), Anibal Godoy, Tommy Thompson (Jackson Yueill 75), Jahmir Hyka; Chris Wondolowski (C), Danny Hoesen Subs Not Used: Andrew Tarbell, Shaun Francis, Lindo Mfeka
(June 17, 2017) — Sporting Kansas City silenced the San Jose Earthquakes en route to a 0-0 draw on Saturday at Avaya Stadium, collecting their MLS-leading ninth shutout of the season while remaining at the summit of the Western Conference standings.
The Earthquakes (5-6-5, 20 points) finished the night with just five shot attempts – their fewest all-time in a regular season home game – against a stingy Sporting Kansas City side (7-4-6, 27 points) that moved three points clear of the second-place Portland Timbers and FC Dallas. Sporting KC goalkeeper Tim Melia reached a new single-season career-high with his ninth clean sheet through 17 matches.
With his team three days removed from a 4-0 home win over Minnesota United FC in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, Manager Peter Vermes made two changes to the Sporting Kansas City lineup. Benny Feilhaber replaced Jimmy Medranda in the midfield, while Daniel Salloi made way for Latif Blessing on the left side of a three-man attack. Defender Seth Sinovic notably made his 150th regular season appearance for Sporting Kansas City, joining a full-strength backline alongside captain Matt Besler, center back Ike Opara and right back Graham Zusi.
The visitors conjured their first threat within three minutes when Feilhaber’s free kick from the left channel was whipped into a crowded penalty area and touched onto the post by San Jose goalkeeper David Bingham. The subsequent corner kick was played short before Feilhaber squeezed a cross to the feet of Dom Dwyer, who lashed a left-footed effort marginally high and wide of the target.
Feilhaber and Dwyer connected again with a neat give-and-go on the edge of the box in the 28th minute, but Feilhaber’s low blast was blocked by the lunging Andres Imperiale. Three minutes later, a quick break into the attacking third culminated with Gerso dragging a shot wide from distance.
Sporting Kansas City’s marked dominance dragged onward as Feilhaber continued to pull the strings prior to intermission. His in-swinging corner kick to the near post was nearly nodded goalward by Roger Espinoza, but Cordell Cato was stationed on the goal line to head the ball wide and extinguish the danger. Shortly thereafter, Zusi’s bending free kick skipped a foot wide of Bingham’s right-hand post. The attempt was followed by two Bingham saves on a header from Feilhaber and a deep drive from Gerso.
San Jose would finally record its first shot in the 53rd minute, but Melia made a comfortable save to deny Jahmir Hyka from long range. Danny Hoesen then hammered a free kick high from 25 yards on the hour-mark.
Medranda replaced Blessing in the 68th minute and almost produced the breakthrough two minutes later, cleverly combining with Dwyer before seeing his 20-yard bullet smothered by Bingham.
Sporting Kansas City striker Diego Rubio returned to the fold as a 76th-minute replacement for Dwyer, making his first appearance for the club since last October after overcoming an ACL injury. But the first chance following his introduction fell to San Jose, as Hoesen spun on the edge of the box before having his shot saved. The Earthquakes continued to gain a foothold, with Jackson Yueill forcing another stop from Melia with 10 minutes left.
Saturday’s most dramatic moment was saved for the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time when Zusi surged into the box, slipped past Imperiale and fired low on goal, but Bingham thwarted the U.S. international to rescue a point for the Earthquakes.
Sporting Kansas City will return to California next Saturday when they face five-time MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy at StubHub Center. Kickoff is set for9:30 p.m. CT on FOX Sports Kansas City.
SPORTING KANSAS CITY HEAD COACH PETER VERMES
On Sporting KC getting its first shutout on the road since April:
“MLS is a very difficult league because, I always say, there’s so much parity from team to team. Obviously, the results every week show how hard it is to get points on the road in this league as well. It’s one thing to come and get a point; it’s another thing to play, have the ball as much as we did, probe the field as well as we did, and I think it was the second minute, we probably could’ve scored two goals-or first three minutes or whatever-we could’ve scored two goals. Yeah, it was very good. I’d say for the whole game what was never easy is you almost get a little bit impatient at some point and lose the organization on the field, lose a little of your positional sense, and now when they win the ball, because obviously they were sitting back and trying to counter, we could’ve really gotten exposed, but credit to the guys because they were very disciplined throughout the course of the match and that piece was excellent.”
On the chances the team was unable to capitalize on:
“The great thing is, all you have to get is a chance in the last second of the game, you know? Goalkeeper [David Bingham] made a good save. That’s what he’s there for. It’s not just hit it and it goes in, right? To be honest with you, I’m not really concerned about any of that. Why would I be? Being able to come into somebody else’s place and possess the ball the way we did, create chances the way we did. Sometimes it doesn’t go in, that’s okay. Very good from our team and the chances we created were tremendous.”
SPORTING KANSAS CITY DEFENDER GRAHAM ZUSI
Overall thoughts on the game:
“There’s a whole lot of positives to take from this game. We came out and we controlled the tempo. We had the better chances of the game and it’s a good performance. A point on the road is not easy to come by in this league. We’re happy with a point, but today should’ve been three.”
SPORTING KANSAS CITY MIDFIELDER BENNY FEILHABER
On the team’s defensive performance in the first half:
“I would guess that a lot of that has to do with how well we kept possession in the first half. I think we kept possession pretty well the whole game, but the first half I think we did a better job of really making them work, and then when they did have the ball, they probably were a little bit tired to really penetrate and we were in good spots as well, so that all plays into the defensive aspect of things. Makes it a lot easier when you’re keeping the ball and when you’re in good spots, so that was probably one of the main things.“
On the result:
“I think to come on the road in MLS and out-possess a team like we did today and probably out-create good chances than the home team, I think is always a good standard. I think we’ve been playing the right way on the road. The results haven’t been as we would’ve liked for a large majority of the games, but I think we’re on the right track to eventually kind of break through and eventually get on a little bit of a run. The style of play is definitely not the issue. I think we can be a little bit more aggressive on the offensive side of things and to be able to get that goal that really changes the game in our favor, but we’re definitely not going to change the way that we play because I think that’s one thing that’s really working for us.“